Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 635
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is the story of Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot, a married couple whose surface-level perfection hides a number of unpleasant truths about their marriage. When Amy goes missing, Nick becomes the prime suspect.
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The novel is split into three parts. The first part deals with Nick's reflections on his marriage to Amy and his realization that she's missing. She disappears one morning, and the police immediately suspect Nick. There is a trail of evidence that indicates Nick may be involved in her disappearance. There are many unpaid credit cards in his name, her diaries that discuss their marriage and her increasing desperation, and the fact that Amy purchased a gun from a nearby abandoned mall where homeless people live and illegal acts take place.
Nick is clearly confused by many of these revelations. His sister tries to convince him to cooperate with the police and to have the right attitude, because she believes that he may be implicated even if he did nothing wrong.
As the backstory unfolds, Amy talks about how she met Nick, how she gave her trust fund back to her parents and used what was left to help him and his sister purchase the bar they run, and how she hated moving to Missouri from New York City, which she did to help Nick take care of his mother. His mother, Maureen, later dies.
One of Nick and Amy's neighbors reveals that Amy is pregnant and that she believes Nick to be abusive. Nick reveals that he's been cheating on Amy with one of his students.
The second part of the novel reveals that Amy isn't dead. Instead, she plotted her entire false abduction and ran away when she realized Nick was having an affair. Her intention is to have him be tried for, convicted of, and executed for her murder—at which point she plans to kill herself.
Nick realizes what Amy has done when he decodes the meaning of the anniversary gifts that she left him. Working with his lawyer, he goes on television to convince people that he's a good guy—and to ask Amy to forgive what he's done. He also pleads to her kidnappers to release her, though he means for Amy herself to get the message. Nick is promising to be the perfect husband she wants. When the police study the various clues Amy left behind, they decide to arrest Nick.
Amy decides to go home to him. In order to do so, she convinces her rich ex-boyfriend from school, Desi Collings, to come get her and keep her safe from her abusive husband. She acts a certain way on his security cameras so that it looks like he has abused her and then violently murders him during sex. In this way, she's able to pretend she actually was kidnapped and go home to Nick.
She arrives, and she and Nick reunite. Everyone except Nick and Rhonda Boney, a detective who has seen through the frame job Amy did, believes her story.
Nick clearly hates her, but Amy doesn't intend to let the marriage end. Nick writes a tell-all about their marriage, intending to give it to her before he leaves, gets money for the manuscript, and divorces her. He tells her about the book and that he's leaving, and she reveals that she's pregnant via sperm they froze earlier in their marriage. Nick is unwilling to leave his son with her and tells his furious sister that he's willing to be the husband and father Amy wants him to be. He tells Rhonda that he was wrong about Amy framing him.
The book ends with Amy relishing the way Nick is acting—except for the occasional blip—and believing that they're on their way to becoming the perfect family.